Tuesday, July 26, 2005

A Refresher Course on Good, Old Friends

Originally uploaded by billmcgonigle.
Last week I got the hell out of Dodge (Haerbin) and hightailed a 12 hour train south to Beijing. The payoff? A small handful of days that seemed like a joyous lifetime.

Jay Slothouber (SFS 04 and fellow Chinese-studying-honkey) was in the hemisphere traveling with his girlfriend Kelly. As they had come 6,000 miles in my direction, I leaped at the chance to travel the few hundred to meet them in Beijing.

It was great. After meeting up at the train station, I dumped my bags in their hotel room and we hit WangFuJing for some expensive chuar (Chinese BBQ) and some beer. The next day was spent at the Summer Palace (I need to give you readers two comparison pictures my recent Summer Palace trips, as they really illustrate beijing's pollution problem) and Bei Da, but the highlight was dinner at TGI Fridays. I gorged on Mozzerella Sticks, Buffalo Wings, Potato Skins, a Cobb Salad, and Steak Fajitas. It was one of the best meals I have ever eaten. And it didnt contain rice, or dumpling, or noodle, or an inordinate amount of oil.

Wednesday was spent with a day trip to the Great Wall, a section known as "HuangHua," or "Yellow Flower." I asked our minivan driver why it was called "Yellow Flower." Answer: "Because thats what people call it." Thanks, guy.

HuangHua was great because it was an isolated section of the wall that was just being targetted by the tourism bureau for modernization. Which means they rebuild the wall and install a few KFC and ripoff tourist junk vendors. Just like BaDaLing, if you have been there. But, for right now, we were able to experience an origingal part of the wall without the hassle of large crowds of stupid white people wearing stupid hats.

We did get to spend time with a pair of fellows from Deutseland, two guys who spoke zero Chinese and had no idea where they were. Two guys who had me biting my tongue that entire afternoon. Surely no one who speaks German could be evil.

A dinner at one of Beijing's premiere Peking Duck restaurants and most of the next day spent in the new-fangled Silk Alley (it used to be a rundown alley, as of February even, but now its a fully modernized shopping center) rounded out the trip, and then it was back to Haerbin.

I was getting a little stir-crazy before the trip, but seeing those two really reinvigorated my soul. Put some things in perspective. Certainly boosted my confidence as they were not only impressed with my increased Chinese ability, but quickly remarked on the wieght loss.

Either way, I still miss a lot of our readers back in the good ol' US of A, and if youre reading this, send me an email and give me an update. I only heard a fraction of all that I'm missing out on from Jay and Kelly, so help me kill the cat and fill me in. I got enough free time now to read (and write) rambling emails, that is for sure.


Post a Comment

<< Home